This last summer we did a whole lotta bike riding. With a cement trail system that runs all over our city, we pretty much left the bikes ready to go each night for the next morning. On our rides, my 4 year old was able to discover many new creatures. We had seen foxes, bunnies, hawks, geese, mice, independent cats, dogs on leashes, a TON of grasshoppers, stinky prairie dogs and a muskrat.
Grasshoppers are everywhere on these trails in the summer. They play chicken with the on coming pedestrians each day. I guess it could be a perfect example of natural selection. Many jump away just in time, the other 2000 don’t jump fast enough.
One day, we decided to take a ride on an East bound trail that would eventually bank to the North. It was covered with grasshoppers and I did my best to dodge them. This was the first time I’d been on a trail that was so desolate and long. It went through areas that were mostly open and filled with prairie type grasses. There were a couple spots that went a little woody and scared me a little. But there were a couple times we had to cut off the trail to pass over major cross streets. We must have been on the trail for about an hour before we decided it was time to turn back if we wanted to make it in time for lunch.
As with most first time adventures, the way back always seems to go a lot faster. We were flying. Still the trail was fairly quiet. I only saw one rider or runner for every 15 minutes on the way out. On the way back seemed to be just the same. There’s more, but let’s skip forward…
At dinner time that night, I laughed outloud to myself. My husband, who is used to me doing this, asked what was so funny.
“You’ll never believe what happened today,” I said. I proceeded to tell him about our exploration of the new trail and how it was long and scarcely populated. Then I told him what happened on the way back…
Along one long stretch of trail, my 8 year old spotted a little frog. We had not seen a frog yet in the season so I hit the brakes and decided to go back and show the 4 year old the wittle fwoggie. He sure was cute just minding his own business. I let the 4 year old out of the bike trailer for closer inspection. We were oooh-ing and ahhh-ing over the little amphibian when I saw that bike was coming up behind us. We were sure to move our bikes toward the side of trail, but the little frog was still in the path of this oncoming bike.
“Oh no!” I said. And I herded the frog out of the way to avoid its squashing and also to avoid my boys witnessing a terrible accident. He hippity-hopped out of the way just in time. I dramatically sighed with relief and told the frog, “You’re Welcome.”
Just as I said that, I looked up to find a family of bike riders, just like us, coming from the opposite direction!
I always talk outloud, “Are you KIDDING me?” I quickly began shooing the frog back in the direction from whence he came and before I could get him out of harms way, ANOTHER rider was coming from the other side! This is NOT an exaggeration. That trail had gone from empty to rush hour traffic. As at least two more sets of riders came from each direction and I could no longer tell if I was helping this frog live another day or trying to push him to his certain death. My boys, of course, were cracking up. I must have looked like an idiot. What were these other riders thinking of me shuffling back and forth in the middle of the trail? The frog was so tiny, I might as well have been a mime, because I doubt they ever saw him.
I’m happy to say this story ends well. Once the traffic tapered off, the frog finally got fed up with me and jumped into the prairie grass on the side of the trail.
Now, remember that I was telling the accounts of this story to my husband. He was not laughing like I was. He just shook his head, smiled, and said, “Didn’t you learn your lesson with the bunny?”
This is where the story within this story starts.
He was right! I had not learned my lesson. Now, stare off into space with me, if you will, and let’s go back about 6 years. My oldest son was 2 years old. We decided to go to lunch at a local BBQ spot in Illinois. As we got out of the van, we noticed that there was a wittle tiny bunny. It had to be the smallest bunny I ever saw. Needless to say, it was freekin’ adorable. I showed my son the bunny with excitement. It was sort of hanging out near the parking lot by the cars. I was immediately worried that a car would back over it or hit it head-on. Nearby, we spotted it’s mommy on the grassy area bordering the parking lot. “Oh, look,” I said to the bunny, “There’s your mommy!”
I proceeded to shoo the baby bunny towards its mommy. “Go to your mommy little bunny!” I said aloud, as usual. My 2 year old and my husband watched as I attempted to save the bunny from certain death. Of course the skittish little bunny ran away from giant me and towards its mother.
The moment the little bunny began to run for its life, a behemoth crow dove down from a large wooden post and SWOOPED the baby bunny up from the ground…
The sounds heard next can never be erased from ones mind. I had never heard a baby bunny scream before. What’s worse is, neither had my 2 year old son. It was an excruciatingly sad moment. I’m cringing at the memory of it.
Soooo, let’s go back to the froggie…
I shoulda known better than to help that froggie. I almost traumatized our second child with my attempt to rescue a weaker species. What was I thinking?
So, I hearby officially retire from saving tiny wildlife and I leave it in nature’s hands. I don’t even dodge grasshoppers with my bike anymore. I think most animals stand a better chance with Natural Selection than with my help. My contribution to wildlife is to mind my own business, or just send in a donation.